Every year, the UFCW joins a coalition of organizations that highlights Equal Pay Day, which marks the day of the year in which women would have to work in order to make the same amount as men. Our union also highlights the subsequent equal pay days that mark when non-white women would make the same amount.
To commemorate today’s benchmark, Latina Equal Pay Day, we talked to UFCW Local 1245 staff member Nereyda Curiel about how she creates change by getting active and inspires others to, as well.
An elected councilwoman in her hometown of Haledon, New Jersey Nereyda is an involved member of her community. In addition to her job at serving UFCW Local 1245 members, much of her work as a councilwoman involves coordinating special events that benefit children and senior citizens.
Growing up in a union household, Nereyda is very familiar with the role unions play in helping hard-working people build a better life, including when it comes to equal pay for men and women: “My mother was a seamstress, and both my parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic,” she said. “I know how important it is for a working family to have those union benefits. I love what our union represents, and I love being a voice for working people—both through the union and as a councilwoman.”
Nereyda also came from a nonunion job before working at UFCW, where she is a union member. “It’s very different,” she said. “I see firsthand how we being part of a union helps people secure good benefits, job security, and so much more. I’ve experienced what it’s like when no one represents you. The union is here—and I’m here to help.”
Although Nereyda says unequal pay for men and women is “ridiculous”, she’s well aware of how much it still exists. “We each do the same job—all that should matter is that it’s getting done—not who’s doing it.” She notes that even members of her family who live in the same household and have the same workplace do not take home the same pay. “We need to continue to work hard to fix this. If we stick together, we can,” she said.
Aside from being in a union, Nereyda believes the other best way to ensure equal pay is to get more politically involved, specifically getting registered to vote and voting in the November elections. “Our vote is our voice,” said Nereyda.
“We have to be heard not just as Hispanics but as Hispanic women, and I know that my vote counts. I’m concerned about immigration and family separations—we need to unite people. Right now, anyone who is affected by our current immigration laws—Dreamers included—are pretty much living on standby. My parents came to this country with a dream and a goal to build a better life here; everyone comes here with a dream, even if that’s all they have. That’s why I get involved, and why I’m so passionate. I know that I can make a difference by voting to elect people who represent us and our concerns.”
Nereyda hopes to continue helping other Latina women get more involved in both their union and communities this year. “I live in a very diverse area that includes a large Latino population. I want all of them to know that anyone can run for office on some level. “If we want to make change, we need to vote and change the voter turnout.”